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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Energy truths

February 17, 2014

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To the editor:

Calls for a “carbon tax” are misguided. If the goal is to reduce “carbon footprints,” then all products must be included. “Green energy” is not very green when the purchase/installation costs are barely paid for before expensive repair/replacement is needed. Manufacturing “green” products creates a carbon footprint that vastly outweighs the product’s carbon benefit.

Driven by ethanol mandates, marginal ground has been carved up to produce corn, increasing water pollution and destroying conservation habitat. Ethanol will only be slightly better than using gasoline in 2022, but the trade-offs in fertilizer use and fuel consumption will take 48 years to reach the break-even point in greenhouse gas emissions. Production of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars is not environmentally friendly. Factoring in the carbon cost of transmission facilities and production, “green energy” is not green at all. How do those costs in terms of carbon footprint stack up against coal, natural gas or petroleum?

And it’s been given special dispensation to damage and destroy the environment. Solar farms damage bird populations, and wind farms kill a good number of raptors with immunity. Where is the outcry from environmentalists? Silence. If an oil/gas company were causing the damage “the hue and cry” would be deafening. Just look at the Keystone Pipeline.

I, personal, like wind, solar and small-scale hydro, but I’m honest with myself about their real cost. How about the whole truth for once?

Comments

Richard Heckler 1 month, 3 weeks ago

150 earth quakes in Oklahoma in the past week - can we say Fracking?

The US Geological Survey found that from 1975 to 2008, central Oklahoma experienced one to three 3.0-magnitude earthquakes a year, compared with an average of forty per year from 2009 to 2013.

And it looks like that number is going to get bigger. It’s only February, and the state has already logged more than twenty-five quakes of 3.0-magnitude or larger this year, and more than 150 total quakes in the past week alone.

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178449/whats-causing-huge-spike-earthquakes-oklahoma

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Grégoire Guillaume 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You always have the people who look ahead and those that bury their head in the sand. Those who do not want to address the problem of unsustainable energy production only have to look to 'Easter Island' to see what comes from a lack of vision.

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Ron Holzwarth 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Maybe the global warming debate should be settled via experimentation. That is, do nothing and then evaluate the situation in 100 years.

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Gerald Kerr 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Ken, global temperature has flat lined for a decade or more at a time in which CO2 emissions from fossil fuels have been increasing rapidly. According to CO2 information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy, and "The Economist" the world added 100 billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere in decade 2000-2010 which amounted to roughly 25% of all humanity produced carbon since 1750AD. And yet as noted by Dr. James Hansen head of NASA's GISS, "...the five year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade." In fact, Ken, for GISS the slope is flat from July 2001, for Hadcrut3 flat since 1997 (16yrs.6mo.), Hadcrut4 flat since December 2000, Hadsst3 flat since December 2000, UAH flat since Oct. 2004, RSS flat since September 1996. Thus while humanity released CO2 is rising rapidly and higher than it has ever been earths mean temperature is in a 9 to 17 year pause.

As noted several postings above, as corroborated by the notorious Phil Jones of East Anglia, the only period of warming that could be significantly contributed to by humanity freed CO2 is 1975-1998 which is "similar and not statistically different from" the periods 1860-1880 and 1910-1940 when there is no evidence of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. What to make of this?

CAGW may have not yet begun or Earth's sensitivity to CO2 may be quite low, or other natural forces (sun, clouds, EM radiation, dust, tides, planetary orbital wobble, others) may far outweigh man's contribution to CO2 production.

It is increasingly clear that ruinous taxes and assessments to fund the coffers of irresponsible, spendthrift and virtually bankrupt political and scientific bureaucracies is a fools errand.

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Gerald Kerr 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Chris, some don't see the forrest for the trees. Before constructing heat seeking missiles, pursuing Gish, dropping sexy names such as MODTRAN and HITRAN one should see if the data supports singular unnatural rates of global warming above past patterns of increase. That should be the case if CAGW is to be seriously considered. That is not the case Chris. There is no pattern of global warming, even using teased and tortured data, which is beyond natural expectations coming out of the Little Ice Age that ended about 1850 AD.

Chris, the data isn't there to support the man induced CO2 forcing model as significant driver of global temperature. The hockey stick was bum science and is broken to pieces. You site acronyms that would dizzy a Manichee but there is no sound evidence for CAGW and there never has been.

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Gerald Kerr 1 month, 4 weeks ago

 Chris, climate is doing what it always does its changing. We are currently in the Holocene interglacial which followed the last great Glacial (ice age) Maximum of some 22,000 years ago.  Since the interglacial warming peak 5500 BC,  several additional periods of cooling and warming have occurred:  Minoan Warm Period (3500 yrs.ago), Roman Warm Period (1600 yrs.ago), Medieval (1250-750 yrs.ago).  Following the latter, earth experienced a period of cooling known as Little Ice Age.  Since the 'Little Ice Age' (1500-1850 A.D.), we have been overall warming.

According to IPCC's own assertions Anthropogenic CO2 emissions were minimal in 1850 and did not become potentially significant till 1940 or 1950. According to Met Office's own data for past 163 years earths temps. didn't warm in 1950's or 60's. It was not until 1975 that temperatures began to rise. However, even Phil Jones acknowledges that there is no significant difference in his accepted global temperature warming rates in the intervals 1860-1880, 1910-1940, and 1975-1998! His words, "...the 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically different...the trend over the period 1975 to 2009 ..has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998."

The upshot is, Chris, Anthropogenic CO2 forcing is not a de facto player in anything but the imaginations of cheerleaders for carbon credit taxes and recipients of government grants.

President Dwight Eisenhower, a great Kansan, was a prophet like few who have run their course in public service. From his farewell address to the nation:

"...Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nations scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present- and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite...."

The free university is no longer free. The people are no longer free. Eisenhower's prophecy has come to pass. Truth has been purchased. Tail wags dog. Dog wags tail. Science sold to the highest bidder by technological/scientific and political elites. Open your eyes folks, the road to serfdom is a killer.

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Gerald Kerr 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Ken Meyer, Is it, do you think, a good idea to raise taxes and energy/food costs on strapped citizens in order to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Do you think the government will use the funds responsibly? Do you believe that Catastrophic Man caused global warming (CAGW) is a real problem? Do you believe CO2 is a critical driver of global temperature? Is it possible that the issue is manufactured by bureaucracies to confiscate more money for bankrupt governments?

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Bob Smith 1 month, 4 weeks ago

"...The carbon-trading schemes enacted with such fanfare just a few years ago have effectively ceased to operate amid collapsing prices. The sustainable-energy craze produced the expensive bankruptcies of solar-panel maker Solyndra, Fisker Automotive and battery maker A123 Systems, to name a few. Germany, which has taken its climate-change fetish further than any other major economy, is now coming to grips with a comprehensive fiasco of higher energy prices and higher carbon emissions. Who would have thought that when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow, people might still want to switch on the lights?

It is now the dogma of the left that any hint of doubt when it comes to predictions of climate doom is evidence of greed, stupidity, moral turpitude or psychological derangement. "Climate denial" is intended to be the equivalent of Holocaust denial. And yet the only people who've predicted anything right so far are those who foresaw that the Kyoto Protocol would fail, that renewable energies didn't really work, and that climate bureaucrats accountable to nobody but their own sense of virtue and taste for profit were a danger to everyone...." http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304675504579389492229581738

You may notice that the text in this link was posted only yesterday. I will not be posting this same text and link dozens of times on this award-winning website.

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Beator 1 month, 4 weeks ago

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System,

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the cost of building and operating a new solar thermal power plant over its lifetime is greater than generating natural gas, coal or nuclear power. It costs a conventional coal plant $100, on average, to produce a megawatt-hour of power, but that figure is $261 for solar thermal power, according to 2011 estimates. The figures do not account for incentives such as state or federal tax credits that can affect the cost.

Then there is Solyndra..what were the incentives to build that?

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Bob Smith 1 month, 4 weeks ago

If you want to depend on wind and solar energy, be prepared to shiver in your mud hut every winter.

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Richard Heckler 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Union of Concerned Scientists says ... http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

Global warming is happening now. The planet's temperature is rising. The trend is clear and unmistakable.

Every one of the past 37 years has been warmer than the 20th century average. The 12 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998. 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded for the contiguous United States.

Globally, the average surface temperature has increased more than one degree Fahrenheit since the late 1800s. Most of that increase has occurred over just the past three decades.

We are the cause. We are overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide, which traps heat and steadily drives up the planet’s temperature. Where does all this carbon come from? The fossil fuels we burn for energy — coal, natural gas, and oil — plus the loss of forests due to deforestation, especially in the tropics.

The scientific evidence is clear. Within the scientific community, there is no debate: An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that human activity is the primary cause.

This broad consensus — and the extensive scientific evidence that supports it — is often downplayed or distorted by a small but vocal minority of special interests that have a vested interest in delaying action on climate change.

We have a choice. We can act now to reduce our carbon emissions, slow the pace of global warming, and pass on a safer, healthier world to our children. Or we can choose to do nothing, continue pumping massive amounts of carbon into an already overloaded atmosphere, and suffer the increasingly costly consequences.

At UCS, we believe the choice is clear: We must take steps now to reduce our global warming emissions. http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

Together we can tackle global warming. We have the practical solutions and technologies at hand to substantially reduce our emissions, create a clean energy economy, and establish the United States as a global leader in innovation.

To accomplish it, we must: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

Demand action from our elected leaders

Take simple, practical steps to reduce our personal carbon emissions

Aggressively fight misinformation about global warming

Prepare our cities and communities for the growing impacts of climate change

Working together, we can do it — and you can help make it happen. Take action today!

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/

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Richard Heckler 1 month, 4 weeks ago

The primary point being that in order to deal with global warming climate change substantially reduced consumption of fossil fuels must take place. The manufacturing of air pollution has to take a big hit. Acid rain is still NOT user friendly.

The world needs to accomplish a substantial reduction in global warming climate change ingredients. City driving is among the largest polluters of all. Therefore it makes sense to drive the most efficient vehicle any of us own. Yes most of these are smaller vehicles 4 cylinder types and/or hybrids however for around town they can work. And of course most in town folks can always devote some energy to walking and/or biking. In essence it will require a combination of such to help reduce.

What makes many options the opportunity to be labeled "green" is that these products do in fact require a much smaller foot print thus substantially less negative hits to the atmosphere aka planet.

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Les Blevins 1 month, 4 weeks ago

That's right Ron. Ethanol is one such product.

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Les Blevins 1 month, 4 weeks ago

As one old saying goes; "A Stitch in Time Saves Nine" and another says; "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" and this is the basis for why I've been working on a cure that will enable humanity to address the problem during this century. That is if we get busy in time..

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Ron Holzwarth 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Many products that are billed as "green" or "environmentally friendly" are not what they are advertised to be. In many cases, those phrases are just a marketing gimmick.

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Les Blevins 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Here are some more "Energy Truths" to think about;

The world needs to invest tens of billions of dollars a year in beefing up shoreline defenses against rising oceans or it will face mind-boggling costs in the decades to come, according to new research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If nations don't build up dikes, levees and sea walls, harden existing infrastructure, and preserve natural sponges like wetlands and barrier islands—and if they also do nothing to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming and are driving sea levels higher—the damages could be almost beyond comprehension, the researchers warned. In a worst case, almost five percent of the world's population could be exposed to flooding at the start of the next century, and the damage could surpass nine percent of future global GDP each year. This future damage from floods, they wrote, "may be one of the most costly aspects of climate change." Rounded off, this worst-case dollar cost of rising sea levels could reach $100 trillion by the year 2100, they estimated. That's no typo: It's one hundred thousand billions.

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Chris Golledge 1 month, 4 weeks ago

It is not a choice between increased energy costs and no costs. It is a choice between increased energy costs and increased costs for food and infrastructure. Agricultural yields are known to be negatively impacted by temperatures above certain thresholds, and, obviously, shifting patterns for rain are not good either.

Amongst other studies, there was one from K-State recently which showed that winter wheat yields in Kansas are reduced 20% for every 1 C of global temperature increase, and we are looking at somewhere around a 2 C increase even if we start getting serious about mitigation today. In addition, the amount of the land that experiences heat waves like what devastated our agriculture in recent years has become more than 10 times more common.

Anyone notice a spike in copper and other construction materials after Katrina and Sandy? The most powerful storms have become more common; there is more energy in the weather system to power them.

In levelized costs, wind is already cheaper than coal. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm (Which makes me why our governor precluded development of wind in practically all of the highest wind potenial area nearest our highest population areas.)

Some non-fossil fuel energy sources will not scale as well as others, and some will achieve economies of scale they do not currently enjoy. A carbon tax and dividend is better than energy regulations because it lets the market sort out a working solution rather than having one dictated by government. In that sense, we would not need regulations on car MPG or government incentives to grow corn for ethanol. If these kind of things make sense, the market will respond to the internalized cost of carbon and use them, if not, it won't.

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Bart Johnson 1 month, 4 weeks ago

You know that AGW is made up when every single solution requires more government. Notice that no one ever suggests privatizing roads, which would lead more people to use public transit and car pool to save money on tolls, thus reducing carbon emissions. Such decreases in government power are NEVER put forward.

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Ken Lassman 1 month, 4 weeks ago

Not at all clear that you understand how a carbon fee and dividend works. It is levied at the source, i.e. at the wellhead and the mine, so there is no leakage like there would be if the fee were levied at the end use point, which is what you seem to be complaining about. If a product uses a lot of fossil fuel during the manufacturing phase, then it pays for that in terms of paying higher prices for that fossil fuel, and there is also an incentive this way to reduce the amount of fossil fuel needed for manufacturing/distributing/marketing and using whatever widget you care to talk about. This is just as true for a "green" lithium battery as it is for a V8 SUV.

It is also true for ethanol; if it consumes as much energy to manufacture it as it produces when it is used, and that manufacturing uses lots of fossil fuels, then its price goes up and the incentive exists to reduce the amount of fossil fuel needed for manufacturing it. And the whole point of using renewables is that it DOES emit considerably less carbon than fossil fuels in electricity produced this way, even when you include the manufacturing and distribution processes. British Columbia has a fee and dividend program, and has already cut its carbon emissions 20% without taking a hit economically. In fact its economy is thriving, partially from all of the renewables jobs that have been created.

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